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5/31/2021RIP FreeNode, hello LiberaChat
12/14/2020Another Ubuntu upgrade; minor bugfix deployed
9/8/2020From auto-sni to Greenlock

Teams are groups of like-minded people reviewing things of common interest. Here are a few examples:

Bundle for Racial Justice and EqualitySushi SocietyNature and Outdoors

4 stars
black panther, 2018.

Im Marvel-Film gibt es einiges an fantastischer Technik und Lebewesen zu sehen, mit einem guten Ende. Es wird gekämpft und Leute werden verletzt oder sterben sogar, weswegen der Film wohl erst ab 12 Jahren empfohlen wird. Die Figuren sind klar in gut und böse gezeichnet und wechseln das auch nicht.

4 stars
Parasite, Korea, 2019.

Der koreanische Film zeigt, wie sich Sohn, Tochter, Vater und Mutter einer sozial wenig priviligierten Familie von einer reichen Familie im Haushalt anstellen lassen. Die Kinder sind Privatlehrer, der Vater Schofför, und die Mutter Haushälterin. Was mit einigem Witz beginnt wird mit der Zeit immer skurriler - und führt über eine Katastrofe in ein verträumtes, etwas einsames Ende. Der Film lässt sich daher etwas schwer einordnen in die klassischen Kategorien, er hat Elemente eines Familiendramas, prangert soziale Ungleichheit an, ist eine Farce mit Elementen von Horrorfilmen, auch Liebesszenen und Intrigen fehlen nicht. Die Handlung ist flüssig erzählt, und hat ein etwas saures Ende. Zum Schluss nimmt sich Regisseur Bong Joon-ho nicht mehr die Zeit Handlungsstränge wieder zusammenzuführen und lässt damit das Publikum auch über das Filmende hinaus etwas nachdenklich zurück.

Für diejenigen die DVDs mögen: Die DVD hat leider nur die Originalsprache mit einer weiteren Sprache, also nicht geeignet um deutsch - englisch zu lernen.

4 stars
Bücher verwalten und teilen mit inventaire.io  de

Schön seit einiger Zeit erfasse ich meine Bücher in inventaire.io, einem kostenlosen Webdienst zur Erfassung bibliografischer Dinge. Egal ob Bücher, Zeitschriften oder sonstige Schriften können mit diesem Dienst erfasst und verwaltet werden.

Dabei werden neben Autor und Titel verschiedene Dinge, wie Genre, Erstveröffentlichung oder die offizielle Webseite des Werkes erfasst. Darunter gliedern sich die Ausgaben des Werkes, die als eigenständiges Objekt erfasst werden. Die geschieht meist über die ISBN, welche auch bequem mit der Kamera eines Smartphones oder Tablets durch einen Strichcode erfasst werden kann. Die meisten Daten werden danach automatisch ergänzt, so das hier nur wenig Nacharbeit notwenig ist.

Wer einen Wikimedia-Acoount hat und die Schriften in Wikidata bereitstellen möchten, kann dieses mit einem Knopfdruck ebenfalls erledigen.

Das System besitzt rudimentäre Funktionen um die Bücher an Freunde auszuleihen oder zu verschenken. A pro pos Freunde auf inventaire.io: meinen Account findet Ihr hier

5 stars
Powerful tales that don't hold back

After the somewhat underwhelming Heart-Shaped Box (review), I wasn’t sure what to expect of Joe Hill’s Strange Weather. It’s a collection of four novellas published in 2017, coming in at 432 pages total (paperback). It’s fair to call it a set of horror stories, but each one is very different:

  • Snapshot is a classic “haunted artifact” story that could easily have been written by Joe Hill’s father, Stephen King. The artifact in question is an instant camera which not only preserves memories, it also takes them away.

    The protagonist, an overweight and very clever kid, has a close encounter with the device’s owner. Just when you think the story is pretty much over, it goes to some very interesting places. 5/5.

  • Loaded is about the intersecting stories of several people whose lives are impacted, and in some cases erased, by guns.

    It’s the longest of the four pieces, but it moves at such a rapid clip that you’re unlikely to notice. This is a gut-wrenching, punishing, very American tale. 5/5.

  • Aloft is the story of Aubrey Griffin, a neurotic musician who is reluctantly participating in a skydiving trip to honor a deceased loved one. But instead of safe and sound on planet Earth, Aubrey finds himself in a strange place that seems to never want to let him go.

    It’s an imaginative, not especially scary adventure that offers some reprieve between the two violent tales that precede and follow it. It invests us in its colorful characters, but that investment never quite pays off. Aloft might have worked better as a full-length novel. 3.5/5.

  • Rain is a return to blood-splattering horror, in this case inflicted by the weather itself, in a scenario reminiscent of Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Our protagonist, a young lesbian woman with the unlikely name Honeysuckle Speck, barely escapes the first wave of carnage.

    As she makes her way through a Colorado hellscape on a personal quest, she faces a wannabe vampire, members of a religious cult, a mad Russian, an MMA fighter, a bigoted neighbor, and other witnesses to the apocalypse. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is president, and he provides the deranged all-caps tweets you would expect from him.

    It’s horror, but it’s also tongue-in-cheek, and it works on both levels. 5/5.

For three of the four stories, I felt that the length was just about perfect, showing a remarkable mastery of the novella form. Hill also uses his talent for creating memorable characters, which was already evident in Heart-Shaped Box, to its fullest.

I recommend Strange Weather without reservations, but know what you’re signing up for. Loaded is the centerpiece novella, and it’s a brutal story about a very real subject (gun violence). This not a book you’ll want to pick up unless you’re in the right headspace for it.

4 stars
Heavenly taste but unfortunately expensive

Picture of the protein bar
The wrapper is descriptive enough. (Credit: Gainomax. Fair use.)

Gainomax is a Swedish sports nutrition company. Their products can be found at least throughout Scandinavia.

This protein bar tastes absolutely amazing. It would be hard to tell this apart from candy bars. Smooth toffee flavor with hints of vanilla. The chocolate is nicely quite dark.

One bar contains 18 grams of protein which keeps hunger at bay at least for a while.

Retail prices are around 2€ a bar, which is clearly inflated. This is the only thing keeping this from a 5-star rating.

4 stars
A short but immersive casual adventure

The world as we know it has ended long ago, and the ruins of San Francisco are crawling with orcs and goblins. Your are a novice necromancer, in pursuit of your brother, who has abandoned you and your family in search of fame and fortune. Perhaps you will find him somewhere in the Transamerica Pyramid, one of the few tall buildings that are still standing.

Knights of San Francisco is a choice-based adventure game for Android and iOS made by a single developer, Filip Hracek, and a single illustrator, Alec Webb. It is mostly text-based, and the gameplay is somewhat reminiscent of Choice of Games titles, but Knights also severs to showcase the game’s own engine, Egamebook.

You move through the game’s world by selecting destinations on a map. As you do so, you encounter allies, enemies, and items that may help you on your quest. During turn-based combat, you control only your own actions (your allies attack independently). You are given a surprisingly large set of choices, from feinting, to casting a spell, to kicking a weapon out of the way.

The game is mostly text-based, but the illustrations by Alec Webb help to establish the setting. (Credit: Raindead Games / Alec Webb. Fair use.)

After each choice, a dice roll determines success or failure; if you fail, you can drain your stamina or sanity points to re-roll. The game generates text that describes the result of each combatant’s actions.

There are no hitpoints or levels, and death can come quickly. Still, thanks to your allies, the necromancy skill, restorative items, and the re-roll option, most battles will not present much of a challenge. Just in case, the game lets you rewind bad decisions (I only had to do so once).

The story is told in short paragraphs, much of it through dialog with friendly characters which you can skip if you prefer to focus on combat. The writing is solid, and you do get to make a choices that will shape the story and its ending.

If you’re looking for a game that will give you hours of replay value, this isn’t it—a playthrough takes about 60-90 minutes, and there’s not much that changes on a second run. But it’s immersive, novel, and fun, and only costs $3. Whether or not you pick this one up, Raindead Games is worth keeping an eye on.

3 stars
A fast and violent story that won't scare you out of your wits

I read my first Stephen King book when I was a teenager, and I remain one of his constant readers decades later. He’s incredibly prolific, but he won’t live forever (unless he’s made some kind of special arrangement). Who will I turn to then in order to fill the King-shaped void in my life? Perhaps Joe Hill, AKA Joseph Hillström King.

King shortened his middle name to create his nom de plume so people wouldn’t do what I’m doing: pay attention to his work because of his father’s. By now that ship has sailed, and comparisons are inevitable the moment you look at Hill’s photo on a book jacket. Joe Hill has followed in his father’s footsteps as a horror author, but he’s also explored new territory as the writer of Locke & Key, a graphic novel adapted into a TV series.

Heart-Shaped Box (2007) was Hill’s debut novel. Named after the Nirvana song, it’s about the haunting of a washed-up rock star named Judas Coyne by a ghost he buys on the Internet. The book wastes little time with questions or preliminaries. Soon, Coyne and his hot, young goth girlfriend (the latest of many) are on the run for their lives, from an entity that seems capable of anything and impossible to defeat.

Each chapter is named after a famous rock song, and Hill’s story is loud, fast, violent, engaging and—not especially scary. Coyne is not a likable main character, nor is he easily scared; the stakes are mostly limited to the survival of him and the people around him; the ghost is creepy but all too familiar and human in its evil.

That doesn’t make Heart-Shaped Box a bad story; I enjoyed my time with it, and finished it in a few days. But as far as horror goes, it lacks the menacing quality of the best works of the genre; it never plants an idea in your head that comes back when you’re alone in the house and it’s after midnight. 3.5 stars, rounded down because I’m hoping Hill’s later works will pack more of a punch.

4 stars
A short and sweet story in a forest setting

Take A Hike! is a very short visual novel by Jane Titor about three teenagers with botanically inspired names (Olive, Sage, and Heather) and their experiences during a hike in the woods. All are part of an outdoor education class led by a young teacher named Miss Yarrow. After Sage separates from the group, Olive runs after her to ensure she doesn’t get lost, and the two are soon joined by Heather.

This is a kinetic visual novel, meaning that you don’t get to make any choices. Or, as the game’s description puts it: “Follow three stressed-out teens on a journey full of bickering, mosquitoes, and self-discovery.”

Screenshot from the game showing the characters Olive and Sage in front of a forest background; they are discussing Miss Yarrow
The game includes only small amounts of original art, but the sprite assets by DejiNyucu are used to good effect throughout. (Credit: Jane Titor / DejiNyucu. Fair use.)

It’s a romantic story that doesn’t quite go where you might think it will. The writing is good, with a couple of moments that had me laugh out loud (especially the scenes with Miss Yarrow, the true heroine of this game). Take A Hike! is only about 30 minutes long; it’s $3.50 at full price, but if you have bought the Bundle for Palestinian Aid, you already own it. I enjoyed the hike, and only regretted that I didn’t get to spend more time with these characters.

3 stars
”The Silmarillion“ of Star Trek

This book is about the Planet Vulcan. All odd numbered chapters are the lame excuse for a story, about the Vulcans desiring to leave the Federation. This is supposed to somehow connect to what I would consider the good part: The rise of the Vulcan Civilisation from it’s prehistoric beginnings, to the Time of Awakening. This part is great if you are into this kind of thing. Good world building but not much else…

Section 31: Abyss (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
2 stars
Our Man Bashir…

Julian Bashir is hired by a secret service to prevent a mad scientist from creating a clone army. If at this point you still want to read it, this might be your thing.

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